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Sarvarkar Case Proceedings in the Permanent Court of Arbitration


Mr. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a British-Indian subject, was apprehended on board a British commercial vessel at Marseille on the way to India. He was to stand trial for abetment of murder. VD Savarkar fled the ship and landed on French soil during his extradition voyage. Before British police could catch him, he was apprehended by a French officer. Savarkar was returned by a French officer working with British police. When the French authorities learned about it, Savarkar's reparation was sought. The British government turned down the offer. In 1911, the Permanent Court of Arbitration heard the Savarkar Case (Great Britain vs. France).

Issues: The two issues of concern put before the five-member tribunal was regarding the legality of arrest and restitution of Savarkar. Any other matter had to be resolved under the 1907 Pacific Settlement of International Disputes Convention.

The French position was that the British could not have transported a political prisoner into French soil without authorization. British jurisdiction ended as soon as the ship reached the French seas. The British authorities responded by claiming that the occurrence did not fit within the formal definition of a criminal's passage on foreign soil because it happened by accident.

Arbitral Award: The award was passed by President Beernaert on February 24, 1911. It was ruled that Savarkar’s custody could not be restored. The judges accepted the British claim that they had previously written a letter to the French authorities alerting them of a probable halt and the necessity for assistance from local police since Indian nationalists were residing in France. A letter from the Director of General Security, France, to the British Police stated that he had already issued orders to the local police for assistance until the ship was anchored. According to the judges, the exchange of information proved that the French constable followed the pre-instructions. Furthermore, the British commanders must have acted on the assumption that the French officers were on their side. The British officers' role in retrieving Savarkar from French territory was essentially supportive in good faith, and the arrest was mostly handled by a French constable.

Finally, the Tribunal found that, while the arrest may have been unlawful due to the circumstances, there was nothing in international law requiring the government to restore custody due to an "error made by the foreign agent."

In Conclusion, the Savarkar case came to an end when he was finally transported to Cellular Jail, Andaman.



This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, or Religion, Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being. Further, despite all efforts made to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the information published, White Code VIA Mediation and Arbitration Centre Foundation shall not be responsible for any errors caused due to human error or otherwise.

  • Introduction
  • Issues
  • Arbitral Award

BY : Devika Jayaraj

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